After you have gone through the long job search and finally found a position that works for you, you submit an application and begin what can sometimes be a grueling interview process if you are lucky.
After jumping through whatever hoops this employer has put into place to judge potential new hires, you know you are nearing the finish line when you finally receive an official offer for the position you have been working towards. At this point, you can take a minute to reflect on the job offer, considering its merits and whether it matches with your personal professional priority list. You will want to think about whether the pros outweigh the cons if you choose to accept the offer and work for the employer, including how the position may impact your future career path.
It can be helpful to remember that when the employer extends you an official job offer, he or she has already mentally committed to working with you and made the necessary logistical arrangements to provide you with a realistic offer. This means that you probably have more leverage for negotiation what is important to you in your contract at this point in the working relationship than you will have for at least the first couple of years. While you should immediately be gracious towards the employer for making the offer, there is no need to accept a contract or its stipulations on the spot. Make sure to carefully review any job offer you receive from a serious employer so that you do not let this significant opportunity go to waste. If you have recently received a job offer that you must decide to accept, reject or re-negotiate, then consider the following advice to help you come to the right decision for your professional future.
Before you start trying to figure out whether your newly received job offer is right for you or not, you need to have an idea of what aspects of work life are most important to your happiness and professional success. If you came up with your job aspect priority list a few years ago for your last job hunt, then it is a good idea to revisit that list and update it to reflect any changes in your life and goals.
While it may be obvious to compare the salary or hourly rate with other options, many other important features of the job offer can significantly affect whether its total value is high enough for you to commit to. This includes the value you place on job features like cultural fit, scheduling flexibility, benefits like health care or a 401K, the real day-to-day drudgery that goes with the job and any other issues that are specifically important to you. Make sure to consider how you prioritize at least the aspects mentioned below.
Salary: Money matters, whether we would like to admit it or not. You probably went into the interview process with a ballpark figure in mind of what you hoped to earn if offered the position. If you do not know how much to ask for, then you need to consider what other workers in that position earn and your cost of living. Think about the amount of money you need to survive, then add the amount of money you need for spending money, savings or funds left over. Think about whether this salary meets up to your expectations for the job and works within your projected career path. Do not forget to consider any hidden costs of the job as well, such as having to invest in a car or other mode of transport, purchasing a new wardrobe, treating clients to meals, etc. Try to figure out how your salary goals compare to your peers and managers before offering a salary.
If the potential employer’s initial offer falls within this range, then you are in pretty good shape and may even want to consider increasing your personal salary goals. This is because, in most cases, an employer offers what they believe to be a competitive offer from the beginning but usually expect you to negotiate either for the price tag or other included benefits. Do not forget to try to include all types of financial products in your job offer in this calculation, including stock options, regular bonuses, percent profit, etc.
Cultural fit: If you are given a chance to spend some time with current employees to get an idea of the company culture, then do not miss out on the opportunity for a bird’s eye view into the inner workings of your potential next employer. Even if the salary of your job offer is up to your expectations, the money will not make you very happy if you hate going to your job every day. This question does not have to do with the job role itself, but more of how you might fit into the company culture in terms of getting along with your colleagues and supervisors, understanding the ideology behind the company and the purpose of its operations and organizational structure and much more. This is true for remote and freelance employees as well. If you are used to an office environment, then you may feel lonely working from home.
If you are wondering if a high salary is worth a less than ideal cultural fit, then try to put a real monetary value on the effort you will have to put into work for a company you do not jive with. Think about whether you could see yourself working at the company in five years and how happy senior employees seem to be with their experience with the employer.
Non-cash Benefits: There can be tons of explicit and inexplicit perks to working for a specific employer that should be taken into consideration when weighing the pros and cons of accepting a job offer. Look for how much paid vacation or personal days are included in the job offer and consider making this one of your negotiating points if they are less than you previously had.
Put a value on how each non-cash benefits means to you. For instance, if schedule flexibility is important to you, then you should think about asking about remote options if applicable. Take into account employee perks like quality employer-subsidized cafeteria or meal options, gym membership discounts, family leave policies and whatever else may be offered by the employer in question.
Day-to-day tasks: Although it may seem obvious for some, it is extremely important for you to understand what your actual day-to-day tasks will be if you accept the proposed job offer. While it may have always seemed exciting to you to work in a newsroom, for example, if the idea of spending ten hours a day in front of a computer doing research and writing concise pieces on tight deadlines is not how you want to spend the bulk of your week, then this may not realistically be the right role for you. It can save both you and the employer a great deal of unnecessary work if you can realize from the beginning the day-to-day tasks of the proposed position.
During your interview, you should ask your prospective employer questions relating to the job or the company as a whole. If you have not already become intimately familiar with the employer who has given you a job offer, then now is the time to get to know everything you can about them. This holds true for the details of the specific position you have been offered as well. There is little worse than changing your life around for a new job, only to find that the work environment is nothing like you expected and in fact not what you wanted.
Skip on the surprises and start doing some online research about your employer’s reputation with clients and other employees. If employees rate the company poorly or say that they probably would not recommend working for this employer to a friend, then you may want to think twice about throwing all of your eggs into this basket. While it is true that people with negative experiences are often more energized to write comments about their time with an employer than those who had good or fine experiences, a significant number of negative reviews is certainly a red flag to pay attention to and potentially even inquire to the employer about.
If you know any former or current workers of your potential new employer or know someone who may be able to put you in touch with a worker, then speaking one-on-one with someone who has direct experience can be one of the best ways to learn about what it would be like to work for this employer. The same logic holds for any clients of the employer that you may know who you could discreetly ask for information from about your potential new employer. Depending on how large the employer is and what sort of industry it operates in, you may be able to find more information from the Better Business Bureau or SEC public tax filing information.
If the company is publicly offered and especially if you have been offered stock options, then do not forget to check out how its stock price has changed over the years to estimate the stability and growth of the company. Any sort of inside look into how the company works may be able to give you a priceless perspective into the employer that you need to be able to effectively decide whether to accept the job offer or not.